2019 Gift Guide: Must-Have Phone Accessories for Movie Lovers

Must-Have Phone Accessories for Movie Lovers

There's never been a better time for streaming movies and TV shows on the go. With so many services available, the only limitation to your enjoyment is your phone's accessories. Whether you're buying for yourself or someone else, here are some of the best gifts that improve the movie-watching experience on mobile.

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Stocking Stuffers (Less Than $25)

Programmable Button to Set the Mood

For some movie lovers, watching movies is an experience. TV needs to be bright, lights need to be dim, sound system need be loud enough to hear. Well, with one click of a button, the recipient of this gift can "set the mood."

With the Flic smart button, you can program a device about the size of a quarter to control various other smart devices. Flic can control smart lights, TV operating systems (such as Android TV and Apple TV), sound systems, and much more. And you can program multiple actions on one click of the button.

Turn Your Smartphone into a Remote Control

While companies such as Samsung brought this feature to the US, it is rare nowadays to find a smartphone with an IR Blaster. IR, or Infrared, is the signal used by television remote controls and other home theater devices. However, even though this feature is no longer native on many phones, you can still add it back as long as your phone has a USB-C port (sorry, iPhone users).

With the Baseus R02 IR Remote Controller Adapter, you can control your TV, Blu-ray player, AC, and other devices. This way, managing these devices isn't dependent on your Wi-Fi connection nor requires you to spend more money for a "smart" device with internet-based controls. And with your phone usually at arm's reach, this is perfect for anyone who loves to sit back, relax, and watch movies.

Image by RevAtlas/YouTube

HDMI Cables

Although streaming is an option for most modern-day smartphones, as with audio, it is inferior to a direct-wired connection. Most Android phones support video output over USB-C (but check this list to verify). When supported, all you need is a USB-C to HDMI cable to get started. And bonus points, if you opt for a cable such as the Uni USB C to HDMI cable from Amazon , you can stream up to 4K at 60 Hz.

For iPhone users, your best bet is the Hutou Lightning to HDMI Digital AV Adapter from Amazon. It is currently $15.98 on Amazon ( a $33.02 savings over the official model from Apple's website), which let you stream 1080p content to your television.

Image by Pete Johns/YouTube

Enlarge Your Screen Without Spending a Fortune

While the portability of our smartphones is an advantage, any movie lover would tell you that the smaller screen isn't ideal for the movie-watching experience. While you can use the cable mentioned previously to connect to a television or monitor, for those who don't have a TV or want to watch in an area without a nearby television, you need another option, a clever option — introducing the screen magnifier.

A screen magnifier places your phone behind a large screen that acts as a magnifying glass. The image on your phone is enlarged for a really low price and without needing an additional power source. For a unique look, we recommend the Luckies of London Retro TV Style Phone Screen Magnifier on Amazon. It houses the device in a old retro style look for added flair while you watch your content.

Image by Tim Schofield/YouTube

Phone Stand

For those who like to watch shows while on their desk or while eating, a desktop phone stand works great. The Tobeoneer Desktop Cell Phone Stand on Amazon lets you hold your phone in either portrait or landscape. And, because watching movies consumes a lot of battery, it doesn't block the data port in either orientation so you can charge while you watch.

For those who like to kick back on a couch, there is the Aduro Phone Neck Holder. It houses the phone in clamps and connects it to a contraption you rest on your neck. This way, you can watch your movies and shows in your eye line when laying down and not strain your neck.

Image via Amazon

Gift Ideas ($25–$100)

Gift Cards

With mobile users, viewing your Blu-ray collection is difficult. While it is possible with a digital copy, when it comes to mobile, you best bet is to use a streaming service.

Each year, more and more companies are joining the industry, including Disney+ and Apple TV+. Gifting a subscription will come a long way to fulfill their love of cinema. We strongly recommend at least getting them Netflix. It is easily the largest of the group with a host of award-winning movies and TV shows to keep them entertained for years to come. You can purchase a $30 or $60 gift card on Amazon for them, which at the time of this writing, will award them 2–4 months on the standard plan and 1–3 on the Premium plan (4K streaming).

Stream Your Phone to Your TV

Even though most modern television nowadays has some form of smart features, they are not all great services or have great integration with smartphones. For example, while you usually watch content from similar apps on your phone, if you wanted to stream your phone's display onto the bigger screen, not all of them are capable. This is where Chromecast Ultra comes in.

Google's Chromecast Ultra lets you send content (whether on Android or iOS) to your television. As long as the app supports it, you just press the "Cast" button and the app loads on the television at the last position of the video and turns your phone into a remote control to manage the content. With Android devices, you can take it one step further by mirroring your phone's screen.

Image by Tim Schofield/YouTube

Make a Dumb TV Smart

While most televisions nowadays have some operating system and allow you to play streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, some don't. Sometimes, it not the best operating system for your needs based on the streaming service you watch on a weekly basis.

At this price tag, you can upgrade any television with an HDMI port with a streaming stick. These "sticks" are about a little longer than a flash drive and enhance your TV to a new operating system. While you really can't go wrong with most of the options on our list, one of the best choices available is the Roku Streaming Stick+. It supports up to 4K HDR streaming, includes a mute button on the remote, and has a headphone jack for late-night watching without disturbing your significant others who anyone else you share a space with.

Image by Digital Trends/YouTube

Expandable Storage

For cinephiles, streaming services aren't enough. There is a good chance they have a collection of movies already which they'll want to load up on their phone for mobile watching. But as you know, video files are large, and despite the increase internal storage of phones, it isn't enough for the more dedicated movie lovers.

Expandable storage can come in multiple forms. The most convenient is the microSD card. Usually, in a slot on the SIM tray, you simply add a memory card, close the tray, and with that, add to the available storage. This is the best option for Android users who own phones that still support this feature.

For iPhone users, you're limited to flash drives. One of the best options from both a storage size, convenience, and physical size standpoint is the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive from Amazon. Not only does it come in storage sizes up to 256 GB, but it also loops behind the phone so it doesn't stick out from the bottom as much.

Image by Jon Knight/Gadget Hacks

Headphones

At this price point, your options are a bit limited when it comes to headphones. However, there are great choices for those looking for a pair specifically for watching movies. The Philips SHP9500 offers both a comfortable experience with breathable ear cushions, even when wearing the headphones for long period of times (such as during a movie). It has an open back design, allowing for improved sound staging, and is currently $66.94 on Amazon.

Image via Amazon

Improve the Ambiance

The ambiance of the room can also provide a more immersive movie-watching experience. With smart lights, you can sync the lights to what is displayed on your screen and match accordingly. While there are better and more expensive options, there is still a great choice at this price.

LIFX Mini operates differently from the more popular brands. There is no hub. Instead, each light connects directly to your Wi-Fi network. While this can mean some frustrations (before you optimize your network), once up and running, it works fantastic. You can manage it away from your home, and it has a growing list of compatible apps for an improved experience.

Image via Amazon

Battery Packs

Watching video consumes a lot of battery, and the last thing you want to do is pause the video to charge the phone. This is where power banks come in. While at this price, these are the largest available, you can still get a great option that will last multiple charges.

We listed the ones which include USB PD support since this fast charging technology of choice for Apple iPhones and Google Pixels. Additionally, for any phone using Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+, it supports this feature as well. For iPhones, you will need a Lightning to USB-C cable (such as POWERADD 3.3ft cable on Amazon for $12.99), as USB PD on these power banks works via USB-C.

Turn Your Smartphone into a Universal Remote

With a Harmony Hub, you can control all your devices with IR receivers with your smartphone. With a single touch, you can configure your home theater set up to dim lights, turn on the TV, turn on the AV receiver, and open Prime Video, all at the same time. While it is possible to buy a separate remote, with your smartphone always nearby, why use anything else?

Image by Tech With Brett/YouTube

Splurges ($100 & Up)

A Better Universal Remote

We previously mentioned the Logitech Harmony Hub. If your friend or loved one prefers an actual remote control as well, you can get them the Logitech Harmony Elite. It comes with a Harmony Hub and a Harmony Elite remote control. This universal remote control has a small touch screen that makes jumping into user-created activities easier. You can still use your phone, but this addition is excellent for families where you don't want to give up your phone (or set up everyone else's) to work with the Harmony Hub.

Image via Amazon

Make Your TV Smarter & Much More

If you really want to upgrade your television's operating system, connecting one of the many set-top boxes can make a huge differences. For those who love Chromecast, there is the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro. It uses Android TV, which supports many apps on the Play Store, but optimize for TVs (including VPN services). It even includes Chromecast support.

Or if you are team Apple, there is the Apple TV 4K, which lets you use AirPlay 2 to share video from your phone to your television. There is the Fire TV cube which supports Alexa, allowing you to control your television with only your voice. And for the most apps for television, there is no better option than the Roku Ultra.

Image by CNET/YouTube

Better Headphones

Bluetooth headphones are a better option for movie lovers, as they allow you to sit however far from the television while still enjoying the audio. Whereas audio quality needs to be perfect for some music lovers, the downgrade in the performance of wireless is still excellent for movies.

The Sennheiser RS 165 is wireless headphones that use Sennheiser's proprietary link over 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band. This means not only a stronger connection but a wider range (so you need not worry about losing a connection if you go to the kitchen to get a snack). While these retail at pretty expensive $219.95, you can get them right now on Amazon for $147.00, a steal at this price.

Image by HardwareCanucks/YouTube

Better Lighting

Philips Hue is the gold standard when it goes to smart lights. It has one particular feature that really helps make it the only light you want for movie watching: you can sync the lights with the TV. You need a Hue Play HDMI Sync Box ($229.99 at Best Buy), a Philips Hue Hub, and Philips Hue light, but once connected, you can have your lights change colors to match video being output.

Even if you don't opt for the TV syncing feature, Hue lets you control your lights remotely with either you voice (when integrated with a voice assistant), via an app, and much more.

Image via Philips

Headsets

Another way to enjoy videos is by using a virtual reality headset. While it isn't for everyone, it can offer one of the better movie-watching experiences. With the screen inches from your eyes, movies are much more immersive than a display further away from your face.

This year, VR headsets can now operate without being tethered to a PC. Components also got cheaper, which means prices are lower, making this a much more practical gift to give. One of the better options released recently is the Oculus Quest. It is standalone, under $500, and even has an Android app that lets you mirror what you are experiencing in VR to your phone (or TV via Chromecast) so your friends can see.

Image by Linus Tech Tips/YouTube

Mini Projector

Ever find yourself lying in bed, can't sleep, but don't want to get out of bed? As a movie lover, you could watch a movie in the meantime to help you pass the time. Now, unless you have a television set up in your bedroom, you might be forced to watch a movie on your phone. But there is another option: a projector.

There are many smaller projectors with short throws (the minimum distance the projector needs to be from the wall) on the market that can let you turn any of your bedroom's walls into a screen. While there are better overall projectors, the best for movie users has to be the RIF6 Cube. It is only 2 inches tall but can create a screen 120 inches long. You will need either a cable to convert the USB-C port of your smartphone to connect to HDMI (such as the uni USB C to HDMI Adapter) or the Hutou Lightning to HDMI for iPhones. With this cable, you can then connect your phone to the projector and enjoy your videos.

Image by iDB/YouTube

Phones

A significant investment you can make in someone is to get them the phone they need to enjoy their movies and TV shows. While we understand this gift might be out of the range for most, with financing available through wireless carriers and most OEMs directly, the burden isn't as large.

While all of these phones are great options, I strongly recommend getting the OnePlus 7 Pro. It has a large 6.67-inch display, which was ranked highly by DisplayMate (to say the least). It has stereo speakers, top tier specs, and, more importantly, is under $700. At the time of this writing, OnePlus is currently selling the 8 GB/256 GB version of the 7 Pro for $649. You won't find a better phone at this price, and when purchasing directly from OnePlus, you can finance it starting at $55 per month (without a down payment).

Improve Your Audio Experience

Another gift option on the more expensive side is a soundbar or smart speaker. With either, you can pair your phone and effortlessly upgrade your audio experience while watching your favorite movies. But what even more impressive is the ability also connects to your television, so you enjoy the same audio no matter where you prefer to watch.

The Sonos Beam gets our recommendation. It has four woofers, five amplifiers, and a tweeter for a crisp but loud sound. It has five far-field microphones to hear you when asking, "Hey Google" or "Alexa." It supports Apple AirPlay 2, so you can stream audio from your iPhone as well. And it can be paired with other Sonos speakers over time for true 5.1 surround sound experience.

Image by Engadget/YouTube

Create Your Own Personal Cloud

If you haven't heard of Plex, you are missing out. It is a service that lets you organize and stream your collection of movies and shows to all your devices. While you can use it for free, to get the most out of it, you will need Plex's premium service, which adds mobile sync, live television, DVR, and much more.

No matter which service you opt for, you will need a hard drive big enough to hold your movie collection. It needs to be compatible with the Plex service and be able to easily connect to your router, allowing you to stream its content remotely. So the hard drive we recommend is the WD 4 TB My Cloud EX2 Ultra. With its upgraded processor, 1 GB of memory, and support for Plex, it is everything you need to get your Plex Media Server up and running.

Cover photo by Jon Knight/Gadget Hacks

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